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Trump, terror and Turkey: 2016 in review

Reporting on the major events of 2016, by Beverly Devakishen, Charlotte Gaines, Eddie Booth, Judith Howe and Ollie Watts, James Chesson and Emily Hawkins

January

Tsai Ing-wen made history in January when she was elected to be Taiwan’s first female president. As leader, Tsai led  thr Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) to an overwhelming majority victory. In her acceptance speech, Tsai said that she wanted to  “emphasise that both sides of the Taiwanese Strait have a responsibility to find mutually acceptable means of interaction that are based on dignity and reciprocity.”

February

Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill of the Russian Orthodox Church met in Cuba looking to heal a 1000-year-old rift in Christianity; the first between the leaders of the two religions since the 1054 schism that helped shape Europe and Middle East. The pair signed a joint declaration on the current persecution of Christians in countries such as Iraq and Syria.

March

On the 22nd of March, suicide bombings in Brussels killed 32 people and injured many more. Twin blasts hit the main terminal of Zaventem international airport, and the city’s metro system.The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attacks.

April

171 countries signed the Paris Climate deal, a record number of signatories for a new international treaty.

The deal aimed to keep global temperature increases well below two degrees.

The agreement also seeks to peak greenhouse gases as soon as possible and to achieve a balance between sources and sinks of greenhouse gases in the second half of this century.

The ratification of the agreement by the US and China sees the two countries responsible for the largest carbon dioxide emissions give their full backing to the monumental agreement.

May

On 19th May, Egypt Air Flight 804 crashed into the Mediterranean Sea, killing everyone on board. The plane was travelling from Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport to Cairo International Airport. 66 people were on board the plane, including 56 passengers from twelve different countries and ten crew members. Wreckage from the crash was found in June, and both black boxes were recovered. The exact cause of the crash remains unknown, although Egyptian investigators did confirm that smoke detectors were set off shortly before the plane disappeared, and that the wreckage showed signs of damage caused by high temperatures.

June

A terrorist opened fire in the gay nightclub Pulse in Orlando, Florida, killing 49 people and wounding a further 53. There were over 300 people in the nightclub when the shooting began around 2AM, and as it was a Latin themed event most of the victims were young Latino men. It also marked the deadliest mass shooting by an individual, and the deadliest anti-LGBT violent incident in US history. Although the media focused heavily on the shooter’s Muslim faith, further reports showed he was not highly devout. Although the shooting was followed by worldwide messages of grief and condolence and widespread calls for gun reform, as in previous cases no change has taken place. With the hours-long queues to donate blood for the victims the following day, the world regained some hope, but families and communities will feel these losses for a long time coming.

Brexit:

The UK voted to leave the European Union with a 51.9 percent mandate. The shock victory for Leave came after former Mayor of London Boris Johnson made a surprise decision to support Brexit. The result led to the resignation of David Cameron and the succession of his replacement, Theresa May, as Prime Minister. Negotiations are due to begin over the British departure from the bloc in April, at which time Mrs May has declared she will trigger Article 50 and begin the formal withdrawal process.

July

More than 300 people were killed and over 2100 were injured during an attempted overnight coup started by a faction of the Turkish military. The group claimed they wanted to overthrow the government to protect democracy from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erodogan. A curfew, martial law and the preparation of a new constitution were announced. President Erdogan called on his supporters to take to the streets in protest. Throughout the night, many explosions occurred and countless shots were fired.

The death toll included coup plotters, pro-government forces and civilians. The coup failed due to lack of public support and of wider military support.

August

A magnitude 6.2 earthquake hit Central Italy, killing 299 people and destroying many historic towns in the region. The quake was the country’s largest since 2009 and hit 93 miles outside of Rome. Rescue attempts were hindered by the hilltop locations of the affected towns, including Amatrice, Accumoli and Arquata del Tronto. 80% of Amatrice’s old town centre was destroyed and many buildings will have to be pulled down. 4,000 people lost their homes, with the earthquake causing maximum surface damage due to its shallow 4km depth.

There were approximately 60 aftershocks following the initial quake, some measuring as strong as 5.5 magnitude.

September

North Korea conducted, what they deemed, their biggest nuclear test to date. A 5.3 magnitude tremor had earlier been detected near its nuclear test site. South Korea believes it is the North’s biggest-ever test, raising fears it has made significant nuclear advances. North Korea is banned by the UN from any tests of nuclear or missile technology and has been hit by five sets of UN sanctions since its first test in 2006. The North claimed the test had been of a “nuclear warhead that has been standardised to be able to be mounted on strategic ballistic rockets”.

Estimates of the explosive yield of the latest blast were varied with experts suggesting that the yield may have been at least 20 kilotonnes, if not more. The North often uses nationally important dates as an opportunity to show military strength.

The North claimed that their test displayed their ability to produce ballistic warheads, although this is unconfirmed.

October

Turkey’s president threatened to tear up the deal restricting the flow of refugees into Europe after the European parliament advised governments to halt EU accession talks with Ankara. The warning emphasises how far relations between Turkey and the European bloc have waned in recent months, particularly after a coup attempt in July. Erdogan, in response to the EU talks stated that “If you go any further”, referencing the blocs downplaying of Turkey’s role, “these border gates will be opened. Neither I nor my people will be affected by these empty threats,” he said. “Do not forget, the west needs Turkey.”

Erdogan’s words are the most direct warning to date that Turkey could give up on the agreement to limit the flow of migrants. It came in response to a symbolic, non-binding vote in the European parliament on Thursday that demanded an end to the decade-long accession negotiations. Turkish officials said the vote brought back to the forefront the debate about the partnership between their country and the European Union.

November

Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton in the US presidential election in a shock win. President-elect Trump gained 306 Electoral College votes as he rode a wave of discontent to notch impressive state wins, particularly in the Rust Belt states of Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio which had been predicted to turn blue in favour of Clinton.

06/12/2016

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Ollie Watts